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    Hrishikesh Kanitkar is a former Test and ODI player for India, and a veteran batsman on the domestic cricket circuit. He captained Rajasthan to consecutive Ranji Trophy titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

    Watching England's victory in the fourth Ashes Test at Chester-le-Street in Durham reminded me of the way the great Australian team under Steve Waugh won matches from seemingly hopeless situations. What Australia has done to all the other teams in that golden period was done to them by England. With a great opening partnership put up by Chris Rogers and David Warner, everything seemed lost for England at one stage.

    These two completely opposite characters, with the most different attitude towards batting, put on a magical display of Test-class batting. Rogers was ever watchful and very protective of his wicket. Never wanting to chance a flowing attractive shot if there was any possibility of losing his wicket. While at the other end Warner was as always busy looking and ready for an opportunity to pounce on anything wide and sloppy to hit.

    The Indian cricket team is on a roll. The series win against Zimbabwe makes it the fourth consecutive series win for the team. The result so far has been very predictable. Clearly, Zimbabwe are no match for India. What is a very big positive for Indian cricket at the moment is the way they have taken care of business. 

    Being thoroughly professional means that you do not take any team lightly. Even if its a weak team like Zimbabwe. For India, in this particular series, the challenge has been to maintain their own level of cricket. The real enemy always was complacency. And by the looks of it, the young players want to have none of it. That this was a superb opportunity for the new players was clear. What's good to see is that players are making the most of the opportunities they have got. 

    India's tour to Zimbabwe, starting with the first ODI on July 24, is a superb opportunity for upcoming players to make a big impression on their skipper and also the national selectors. An opportunity such as this doesn't come knocking very often in the life of a cricketer who is working to establish his place in the side at international level. Especially for the bowlers, as the selectors have rested virtually the whole bowling unit that played in the Champions Trophy and the triangular in the West Indies.

    What each player would want to achieve in this series would vary from player to player. Established campaigners like Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja should use this series to take their level of play to a higher level. They should work on their focus and the mental aspects of the game. To be more consistent.

    Just when the Indian team was getting nice and comfortable with the World Cup and the Champions Trophy winners tag, there comes about a twist in the tale. MS Dhoni suffers a hamstring injury and India suffers a one wicket defeat against West Indies on Sunday. Though that doesn't mean that India would have won if Dhoni had continued to lead in the second innings of the match, it sure is a tough preposition for the stand in captain.

    When a captain like MS Dhoni is at the helm, a figure who the players depend on for all the major decisions, and who invariably chooses to make the right move at the right time, its a definite loss when suddenly you find the captain of the ship unwell to do his duties. A void is created which needs to be filled quickly and its very tough because the player doing that is not used to doing it at the international level.

    The Indian cricket team is totally dialled in at the ICC Champions Trophy. They have played a very exciting brand of cricket. They have so far given a lot to cheer for to their faithful followers all over the world. Totally what the doctor ordered after this year's IPL. As opposed to England, India are unbeaten through to the final in Birmingham. England lost to Sri Lanka in the league phase.

    This Indian team is a young side. A very talented team. A team with ever-increasing self belief as they advance into the final. And because they are a young team they know how to be fearless and live in the moment. Most players are very instinctive in the way they play the game. And with the enthusiasm of youth abounding, MS Dhoni is the perfect leader. With not only experience but also the ability to change his own batting plan according to the demands of the situation, Dhoni is a very great threat for the opponents.

    An overwhelming majority of people who participated in an opinion poll conducted by CNN-IBN in six cities across India, feel that their faith in Indian cricket has been shaken following the spot fixing and betting scandal. As many as 90 percent feel this way. This is very understandable.

    We as Indians, are very accepting of politicians involved in multi-crore scams, and more often than not, turn a blind eye towards it, accepting it as a way of life. But we feel cheated when something of the nature of spot-fixing and betting rears its ugly head. The simple reason for this is because we hold our cricketers in very high esteem and so we are hurt when these very people let us down. As opposed to politicians, cricketers are our role models and its tough to accept that our role models could do such a thing.

    Every time we think back about IPL 6, we will think about the spot-fixing scandal. It won't be wrong to term this IPL as infamous. Its a very sad fact that such ugly incidents keep happening in not just cricket but in world sport. Not so long ago a bicycling icon, Lance Armstrong, came out and confessed to having taken performance-enhancing drugs. He was stripped off all his records by the cycling authorities. Will the BCCI do the same to the three Rajasthan Royals players if they are proven to be guilty?

    The answer to that question as of now would seem to be yes. The BCCI working committee met this Sunday to discuss about what is to be done if the players are found guilty. And it will be fair to say that the majority are tilting towards wiping the records clean of the concerned players. It will be as if these players never existed. It sounds sad, but if some drastic decisions are not taken who knows where this sport will end up. Every cricket fan is bound to feel cheated. An event like this takes the fun out of watching the game.

    The sixth season of the IPL has been very exciting so far and by the look of it will continue to be so right until the last ball is bowled. Who will come out on top is still a matter of conjecture. But with the way things are shaping up, whoever it is will have to play a mighty strong brand of cricket.

    As is the case every season, many of the foreign players have been the star performers this time around too. Some have made a greater impact to the outcome of the games than others, but that's always the case. While we are used to seeing foreign players like Michael Hussey, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dale Steyn perform at a very consistent level, there are a lot of foreign players warming the benches. Players who have no chance of playing in the starting XI.